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Council 'fully committed' to £50 million Wolverhampton Learning Quarter despite funding delay

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Education | Published:

Wolverhampton council bosses say they "remain fully committed" to delivering a new city centre Learning Quarter as the wait for confirmation of funding for the £50 million project continues.

The Wolverhampton City Learning Quarter is set to be built on the site of the former Faces nightclub at the corner of Bilston Street and Garrick Street and will be the new home of the city's college, currently based on Paget Road.

The scheme was given the green light at the end of last year and early works have begun, but full funding for it has yet to be secured.

A bid was submitted to funding body the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in June 2019 but the council has yet to receive a decision more than 12 months on.

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The project did get a boost earlier this week, however, when it emerged the city council was set to bid for a share of the Government's Towns Fund, out of which £10m has been lined up for the Learning Quarter.

It's also hoped more cash could come from the Government, particularly after Boris Johnson's pledge to "build, build, build" during a recent speech in Dudley.

It is expected the development will be ready for the college to move into in 2021, after which the ageing Paget Road site will be sold off.

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Equipping

Councillor Stephen Simkins, economy chief at Wolverhampton Council, said: “The council remains fully committed to delivering the City Learning Quarter as one of the priority projects for the city. It is critical to equipping our young people with the tools they need to thrive and match them with the job opportunities available to them.

“We are working with the Black Country LEP to pursue alternative sources of funding from the Government, particularly in light of its recent announcements about investing heavily in further education and ‘shovel-ready’ schemes, with the City Learning Quarter falling into both categories.

“In the meantime, the project team has brought forward other elements of the scheme it can progress such as archaeological checks and structural surveys.

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Faces nightclub was bulldozed last year

“Learning is the key to unlocking the city’s future success and we need to educate all in the 21st century.”

A council report on the project said: "During the latter stages of 2019, planning consent was granted for the City Learning Quarter and the Council assumed responsibility for the new Technical Centre project at Wellington Road (Bilston).

"Initial archaeological works have also been undertaken. Further detailed refinement of design proposals for the new college building and completion of the final acquisition has now been completed and a full tender package is now ready for issue to the market.

"A funding application was submitted to the Black Country LEP in June 2019, however a decision on funding is still awaited."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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